AIA: Architecture firm billings strengthen in April

The American Institute of Architects (AIA) reported in May that architecture firm billings rose for the seventh consecutive month, with the pace of growth in April increasing modestly from March.

Overall, the AIA’s Architecture Billings Index (ABI) score for April was 52.0 (any score over 50 is billings growth), which indicates the business environment continues to be healthy for architecture firms despite continued labor shortages, growing inflation in building materials costs and rising interest rates. The ABI also revealed that business conditions remained strong at firms located in the West, while billings softened slightly at Midwest firms.

“While there was slower growth in April for new project work coming into architecture firms, business conditions have remained healthy for the first four months of the year,” said AIA Chief Economist Kermit Baker, Hon. AIA, PhD. “Although growth in regional design activity was concentrated at firms in the sunbelt, there was balanced growth so far this year across all major construction sectors.”

The following are the key April ABI highlights:

  • Regional averages: West (55.1), Midwest (49.6), South (51.8), Northeast (50.3)
  • Sector index breakdown: multi-family residential (50.7), institutional (52.0), commercial/industrial (52.7), mixed practice (50.6)
  • Project inquiries index: 56.7
  • Design contracts index: 50.1

The regional and sector categories above are calculated as a three-month moving average, whereas the national index, design contracts, and inquiries are monthly numbers.

The Architecture Billings Index (ABI), produced by the AIA Economics & Market Research Group, is a leading economic indicator that provides an approximately nine to twelve month glimpse into the future of nonresidential construction spending activity. The diffusion indexes contained in the full report are derived from a monthly “Work-on-the-Boards” survey that is sent to a panel of AIA member-owned firms. Participants are asked whether their billings increased, decreased, or stayed the same in the month that just ended as compared to the prior month, and the results are then compiled into the ABI. These monthly results are also seasonally adjusted to allow for comparison to prior months. The monthly ABI index scores are centered around 50, with scores above 50 indicating an aggregate increase in billings, and scores below 50 indicating a decline. The regional and sector data are formulated using a three-month moving average. More information on the ABI and the analysis of its relationship to construction activity can be found in the recently released White Paper, Designing the Construction Future: Reviewing the Performance and Extending the Applications of the AIA’s Architecture Billings Index available on AIA’s website.

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